The Worst Advice You'll Get As A Freelancer
Bad Freelancing Advice
If you're a freelancer, you've probably heard all this advice before.
Even if you're not a freelancer, chances are you've stumbled across an article on the internet full of just these sorts of well-meaning tips.
Well, they may be well-meaning, but that doesn't mean they're not dead-wrong.
Here are my top three picks for the most repeated and most unrealistic advice that freelancers get.
But First Tell Me This:
What do you love about being a freelancer?
1. 'Value yourself. Never settle for less than one hundred dollars per article. I don't.'
How often have you heard this kind of talk from successful freelancers?
No one can disagree with them, fundamentally. Of course you should value yourself. But it's hard to hear this advice coming from people who say they are getting 100,000 dollars a month, and who are, at the very least, pretty successful. The freelancers who are making three dollars an article on oDesk certainly would rather be making a hundred, too.
The problem is that is beginning freelancers are, by definition, beginners. They can't charge the same amount as successful freelancers because they don't have the same experience or publishing credits to show to potential clients. Sure, you may be the next Oscar Wilde, but unless you can prove it materially, you're going to be stuck with those three dollars assignments.
Freelancing is like any other job: you start as an intern and slowly work your way up. Except that we don't call it an internship, we call it working for free as a way to build publishing credits.
Bottom line: Valuing yourself is great if you don't value a job.
2. 'Never use a content mill.'
This is the equivalent of someone who's pulled himself up by the bootstraps saying anyone can do it. They've forgotten how tough it was to get started.
Of course, if you can command 100 dollars a blog post, you can get by without content mills. But for those beginning freelancers who are writing for free at reputable sites in order to build publishing credits, twenty dollars made here and there can help tide you over.
Remember, though, that a content mill won't help you in your writing career: it can be useful if you're at the stage where you're not yet making money with writing. Don't depend on it to get clients, but you can spend a few hours there a day as a way to get some necessary money.
Bottom Line: The important thing is to balance your time, spending some days on your long-term projects, others pitching to blogs and writing articles, and still more time making connections and on social media.
This schedule allowed me to write a book in one month.
- How To Write A Book In One Month
It's possible to write a book in one month. Here are some tips and tricks to outline your novel, make a schedule, and stay motivated.
Bonus: How I Structure My Week
Here's how I structure my week:
- Monday: write seven posts for my blog, which I schedule throughout the week; work on my personal projects, including my novel. Engage in social media to draw traffic back to my sites.
- Tuesday: write my hubs of the week and guest posts, articles, etc. Also spend a short time working on personal projects. Engage in social media.
- Wednesday, Thursday: Send pitches to five-ten sites. Social media.
- Friday: Edit Tuesday's articles and guest posts before sending them to their respective sites. Also social media and work on my personal project if I have time.
- I try to have a break Saturday and Sunday, though I tend to do some work at least on Saturday.
This schedule, of course, is far from set in stone. In-person connections and paid articles rank highest when deciding how to change it.
How do you structure your week?
3. 'Always Have a Contract.'
Again, this is just an unnecessary worry for many of the freelancers starting out.
Once you find yourself with lots of gigs worth good money, you can think about this. But if you stumble upon a first client who is paying you twenty-five dollars for an article, don't overstress about legal issues. You won't go to jail for unpaid taxes on twenty-five dollars, either.
A lot of sites that regularly pay for articles have a whole system in place for paying their writers. If you're dealing with an individual, the key is communication. Chances are, they've worked with writers before, so if you're worried they won't pay you, you can google them. (You should google them anyway.) The terms of payment should always be clear before you start writing.
Bottom Line: Sending your client a contract is fine, but not doing so is fine too, as long as you're both on the same page.
Freelance writing can be very frustrating, especially when you're surrounded by people on the internet who've made it and who are giving you well-meant but annoyingly unrealistic advice. The way I deal with my current low wages is by thinking of it as an internship: when I write for nothing, it's for reputable sites. It's a way to increase traffic back to my website and to eventually give me more publishing credits, which will allow me to get more frequent assignments by paying sites and magazines.
Most people start from the bottom. That's why the advice to charge what you're worth doesn't make sense. You may be an amazing writer, but if you don't have the experience or credits to show for it, you're not going to get a lot of jobs. So my advice is: accept those non-paying jobs, as long as they're for reputable sites, and soon you'll be on your way to getting great, paying assignments.
- How To Edit Your Book
After you've finished writing your book, there's a whole other step awaiting you, and it often takes even longer. The following techniques will help you minimize, and make the most of, your editing.